The Roux Institute partners with Techstars to help incubate startups in Maine
Ten start-ups have moved into headquarters Ro Institute in Portland, Maine, where they engage in an intense 13-week partnership with Techstars Designed to grow high-tech businesses that will attract investors and strengthen the regional economy.
The ten companies were selected from a diverse range of applicants from Chile to Seattle and points in between. They are registered for the opening Roe Techstars Accelerator InstituteIt is an intensive entrepreneurship program that will help build their businesses and talents through access to the networks and expertise of the Roux Institute and Techstars, a leading global platform to grow companies and help entrepreneurs succeed.
Their arrival adds to the momentum of the Roux Institute as it begins its second year of study in its expanded campus overlooking the Port of Portland. The accelerator program will help expose companies to a potential talent pool of graduate students studying in Rowe as well as the benefits of working and living in Maine.
“We will have 10 tech startups within 20 feet of their classrooms,” he says. Chris WolffDirector of Entrepreneurship at the Rowe Institute. “We are integrating entrepreneurship, learning and research in an experiential way that will have a tremendous impact on companies building scalable technology businesses and people studying for master’s degrees by putting them all in one place.”
Companies are attracted to the program by the opportunity to receive three months of intensive training and practical mentorship from the institute, researchers, investors, experienced entrepreneurs, and academic and industry advisors. Startups will receive funding while also learning how to grow their business by acquiring and serving new clients. The program will culminate in December when each company will participate in a demo day, attended by potential investors and stakeholders from across the Maine ecosystem.
The program is designed to help businesses establish connections and roots in Maine, which will lead to business growth across the state and northern New England. The goal of the multi-year partnership with Techstars is to introduce companies to potential partners and talent pipelines in the region.
“People realize they can build companies where they want to build them,” Wolfell says. “Our goal is to build a deeper relationship with the state, the institute, and the Northeastern University, and they keep part of their team here.”
More than $200 million has been invested in the 20-month-old institute. the University Launched The Roux Institute last year invested $100 million by a tech entrepreneur from Maine David Rowe and his wife Barbara, who joined Northeastern to spark their vision for a center in Portland educating generations of talent for the digital and life sciences sectors, and creating new ideas through research. In October, the institute received a $100 million gift from The Harold Alfond Foundation, an investment that provides financial assistance to graduate students, funding for postdoctoral research, and support for collaborations with employers in Maine.
The 10 startups will go through a three-step process that has been implemented by Techstars to help scale more than 2,000 companies since 2006; 84 percent of these companies are still operating or have been acquired.
In the first month, companies will receive extensive feedback from a wide range of experienced mentors, including Rich Miner, one of the founders Android; Ali Goldstein Norop, serial founder and president of VC and startup ecosystem Americas for Google Cloud; and Tate Vicker, Vice President of Unum Ventures.
Says Vicker, who leads innovation and institutional venture capital at One. “I am delighted to be participating in the program’s first ever group of startups, while also helping to drive innovative and sustainable economic development in the local community.”
An immersion in the early weeks provides startups with a fresh perspective.
“It’s an amazing experience to tell your story to 75 smart, experienced and tech people, both from the investment and operating side, and get their clear feedback,” Lars PerkinsD., managing director of the Roux Institute Techstars Accelerator, who describes this phase as “the cornerstone of the programme.”
By the second month, each company is working with two or three mentors who help identify obstacles and areas of potential growth. The final month culminates with Presentation Day offerings, where startups will showcase their ability to tell and sell their stories while revealing areas for improvement that have boosted their potential.
“Throughout the program, they were still running a project,” Perkins says. “So we don’t saturate them with 24-hour programming. But there are plenty of workshops on the different aspects of fundraising, storytelling, press interactions, and how investors think about companies when they make investments.”
Startups will also benefit from participating in these growth experiences, he says Nancy Wolf, General Manager at Techstars.
“As peers, their experience of starting Techstars at the same time will foster uncommonly strong bonds,” says Wolf. “They become very close, help and motivate each other. We see bonds form quickly and deeply, and then intensify well after the program is over.”
Wolf says that entrepreneurs usually walk out of the program saying they would “do anything for their colleagues in their program.” It is, in her words, “one of the most unplanned private results of the accelerator”.
The companies are:
- exchange of attentionIt is a research platform that generates trusted reviews from users to help brands grow.
- breathing, a patented browser extension that provides simple break reminders and other features to improve users’ well-being.
- circaIt is a monthly rental payment platform that improves a resident’s ability to pay and stay at home.
- SquadIt is a platform with an offline capability that simplifies the process of data collection and other user friendly services.
- Group B labs, the creator of a portable bottle that stores and instantly heats milk or formula to the ideal feeding temperature.
- listed with, a personal booking agent for beauty and wellness services that is customized according to each user’s preferences.
- Health MCSquaredA simplified billing process that increases collections, reduces employee workload, and improves patient satisfaction.
- Omnic data, which supports esports organizations using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and a proprietary convolutional neural network (CNN) to extract data and provide advanced statistical analysis.
- phase zero, which enables the collection of clinical research from a single interface with a focus on collaboration.
- Wishroute, a messaging platform that enables businesses to connect with users to increase engagement, convert and retain free trial.
“When you see what the Roux Institute is doing as a fulcrum in the emerging technology ecosystem, it really has echoes of Austin[Texas]15 years ago,” Perkins says. “David and Barbara Roe’s desire to give back to the country in which David grew up will have an extraordinary effect.”